07 September 2010

In Memory of My Grandfather, Who Died Thursday

“You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have truly lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.”

—Harry Drummond


Foreign servicemen held no interest for Elizabeth Schmiko. In 1945, a friend invited Betty to a dance for foreign servicemen at the Museum of Modern Art. Betty declined. However, she called back her friend to reverse decision on the condition that another friend, Peasy could come to the dance as well.

At the dance, a young handsome soldier named Charles Russell found love with Elizabeth Schimko. A gentleman, Charles saw her home.

She told Charles that one of her beaus smoked a pipe. The next time they met, he was smoking a pipe. He later remembered, “It was disgusting. I smoked for about a month and that was all I could do.”

Charles was immediately smitten with Betty. Betty wasn’t so sure. Charles offered, “I love you,” to which the callous Betty would reply, “I love you like a brother.”

During their courtship, they would go to the movie theatre at Grand Central Station. They probably didn’t watch much of the movies, since they spent much of their time necking, which was “terribly fun.” They spend their lunch breaks together, talking and eating.

Prior to asking his love for her hand in marriage, Charles had to ask permission from Betty’s mother. Her mother didn’t particularly approve of the poor sailor with an accent she could not understand. He was excited to spend extra time at her house, but when he arrived to ask permission, Mrs. Schmiko had sent Betty out shopping. Mrs. Schimko was questioned him if he was making enough money to support Betty in a lifestyle similar to the one she was currently living (He wasn’t.) and questioned his intentions. Finally, she relented.


On New Year’s Eve December 31, 1946/New Year’s Day January 1, 1947, as the clock struck midnight, Charles proposed. She accepted.

An old sweetheart pursued Betty, even while she was engaged to Charles, and he was engaged to his fiancĂ©. The old beau called Betty one last time. “If you want to break it off, say the word, and we can get married.” Betty declined.

They were married in September. They moved into the 3rd floor apartment of her mother’s house in New Rochelle.  He began to work for British Airways, and eventually, they moved out of the maid’s quarters to their house on Long Island.

They had four impossible children, and nine even more impossible grandchildren. They traveled, spent winters in Florida, and found the best Early Bird dinner specials.

3 comments:

SEXO said...

Great full life... May we all have impossible children and a dinner special...

Kaitlin Russell said...

Thank you Cherie. What a wonderful tribute.

Chris Erridge said...

I'm sorry Cherie. I'll raise a glass in tribute this evening. All my love x